In watching Lord of the Flies: Remixed at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, my first impulse was to walk away. To be fair, I was a bit late arriving, as I had thought that the outdoor location was somewhere in the hub of Granville Island, rather than at the quietly scenic far eastern end of the island. The setting was well-chosen, and made a positive impression on me: a small grove of trees gently swaying in the breeze, a wooden path leading to this point, some concrete stairs cutting through a grassy knoll, the waters of False Creek gently lapping behind the actors.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I still somewhat remembered the plot and characters of William Golding’s seminal novel, Lord of the Flies, the whole play would have been a jumble of loosely connected scenes, not unlike the contents of a fishing tackle box. However, in all fairness, I visited the theatre company’s site to find out more about the background to the presentation, as the actors all appeared to be youth, and I suspected there was more to the play than met the proverbial.
Sure enough, these brave lads had been working on the play for just over a month, with the opportunity to explore the text, bring their own nuances and experiences to the play, and invigorate it with their own unique stamp. The actors were successful in this, as there were many elements of their own making that were not true to the original storyline. I’ll freely grant, as well, that the actors did a fine job of ad-libbing the script, incorporating the harbour planes, which flew occasionally overhead, into the plot. The crux of the Lord of the Flies, after all, is that a group of boys have been stranded on a nameless island, and are hoping for rescue.
There are lovely parallels between the youth actors and the boys of the story: they were groups of boys who came together randomly and likely did not know each other previously; the boys worked together for a short time, several weeks really; and the boys were set to do their creative best with the materials given to them.
The actors made a good effort to engage the audience by modernizing the script, throwing in modern references, cussing (true to today’s colloquial teenage speech), and really trying to evoke raw emotion into each of the characters presented: Ralph, Piggy, Simon, Jack, and Roger.
Given that this was an outdoor setting, whispering was lost on a good chunk of the audience, as many members simply could not hear these lines. The time-tested and true stage whisper would have been much better used here, rather than actual whispering. Although I understand the premise of bringing an original interpretation, there could have been a bit more care in weaving that interpretation into the play to make the scenes more fluid.
Overall, Lord of the Flies: Remix was a great effort for a summer youth project. I was pleased to see the play to the end, and would support this type of project by seeing similar productions in the future. I look forward to seeing all the actors in future productions as they hone their skills in the coming years.